tv At This Hour With Berman and Michaela CNN June 13, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PDT
fastest wifi included. comcast business. built for business. "@ this hour," bowe bergdahl's return to life in the united states going into its final phase. the investigation into why he disappeared in afghanistan, well, that's just beginning. and on the brink near baghdad. militants on the march as president obama urgently weighs options on how to stop them in their tracks, if he can. is the u.s. preparing to go back into iraq? hello, everyone. i'm john berman. michaela pereira is off today and let's get straight to what could be the battle for baghdad.
the fact that we could even say that is shocking in itself. radical islamist are pushing forward after capturing one city after another in just a matter of days. we're now learning that president obama could decide what action to take in iraq by this weekend but what action and where and how? time is running out. the militants have faced little resistance from u.s. trained iraqi troops who just melted away in many cases. we'll bring you the angles "@ this hour" beginning with senior international correspondent inside iraq and jim accosta in washington. i want to go to you right away. what's the latest on the situation on the ground because there have been developments almost every hour. >> reporter: there most certainly have and now we're hearing about battles taking place north of baghdad. news coming out right now that
iran deployed three units of its revolutionary guard to fight alongside iraqi security forces in an attempt to push back the islamic state in iraq and syria. if we look at the trajectory of what has happened over the last few days, isis is moving from iraq pushing its way to the south but moving through sunni areas. isis may be in the spotlight but other sunni insurgent groups are prominent during the u.s. occupation of iraq are now also joining in the fight. believing that this is a battle between the sunni population feeling marginalized since the toppling of saddam hussein and feeling marginalized with politics of the shia government of prime minister nouri al maliki. we see the country fighting along the sectarian lines with
sunni insurgency trying to push toward the capital baghdad with fighters now joining in the battle with calls from shia mosques of fighters and we've seen video of this to rise up and join the fight along the iraqi security forces. they are viewed as a majority. shia fighting force part of the reason why they abandoned their decisions and fled with other militias also being called to arms alongside a call by the spokesman for the most prominent shia cleric here calling on people to volunteer and join in the fight alongside iraqi security forces. the country right now in words of one iraqi politician is on the brink of a total catastrophe. >> on the brink. those forces moving toward baghdad gaining momentum. thank you so much. let's go to jim accosta now at the white house. jim, you just heard the report. the situation there on the brink of catastrophe. she is being told. give us a sense of what's going on behind closed doors at the white house right now.
>> reporter: well, john, i think because of the crisis on the ground in iraq, there's a real sense of urgency over here at the white house as you mentioned just a few moments ago. we've been told by senior administration officials that a decision by the president on how to move forward could come as soon as this weekend. he's been weighing these options including air and drone strikes and that potentially is on the table for this president as well as ramping up military assistance and we can only point to strong hints coming from administration officials. secretary of state john kerry in london this morning saying you can expect a timely decision from the president based on the gravity of the challenge in iraq right now and he also volunteered that the u.s. has been conducting surveillance over iraqi sites over the last several days. so that is an indication that the pentagon is gathering intel in order to make a decision. if the president decides to make that decision. we have been told that he has not yet made a decision on how
to move forward yet. one thing we're going to be looking for in the next hour or so is the president and mrs. obama are due to depart from the white house here and hop onboard marine one and head over to andrews air force base for a trip to north dakota meeting with native american groups before going to california to deliver the commencement address at uc irvine. how the weekend proceeds after that, we just don't know at this point. does the president stay out there all weekend long? could there are changes to his schedule based on what's happening in iraq? we don't know the answers to those questions. john, a very critical moment at this white house as you know you covered a lot of these issues. this is a president who campaigned against the war in iraq. promised to end the war in iraq and did so nearly three years ago. a very big political moment for this president at this point, john. >> jim accosta, the president on the road over the weekend but will make these decisions as you say as soon as this weekend whether to carry out any air strikes. thank you, jim. joining me from washington,
retired army brigadier general who served in iraq for a number of years and on the phone, former new mexico governor and former u.s. ambassador to the united states, bill richardson. people toss around terms like drone strikes and air strikes. this isn't easy. barbara starr is reporting from the pentagon that officials say there's great difficulty now identifying targets because of the lack of intelligence on the ground. to be blunt here, what does the u.s. shoot at? >> well, especially since we're talking about a relatively modest size force. some numbers are in the area of 800 to 1,000. what they would probably be looking at targeting would be columns of vehicles heading from the north down to the south heading toward baghdad. that would be the most likely target. or any command and control centers that isis established to execute these operations. >> governor richardson, the question is, if they do shoot at it, is there a justification to do so?
the iraqi government is accused of being closed off and unfair to the sunni population and not doing enough to stem the flow of arms to the assad regime in syria. it's been far from a unifying force in iraq. governor richardson, for the u.s. right now, is the maliki government worth fighting for? >> i would have serious reservations. i would try to encourage iraqi leaders to basically dump mhim right now. he's made strategic mistakes. fostered this sectarian violence by not including the entire population. he's fostered this climate where militants have been gaining traction. i would try to get a political reform. a new prime minister who shares power, makes needed reforms and includes all sectarian and ethnic groups. i would hold off on military action right now.
i would consider more drones, more fire missiles, apache helicopter gun ships. the problem is the army is deserting. they're leaving. there's no foundation for support of a military but we do have to try to maintain some kind of iraqi stability. we don't want a militant islamic state on the iraqi/syrian border. now we're on the same side as iran on this terrible situation. i think the president we cannot have troops there. we possibly should look at some kind of military assistance. you know, if you recall, al maliki refused a residual force. we offered to put that there and he said no. they need a dramatic change in the political leadership and maybe these kind of changes of
maliki getting moved out might stem the flow that is almost irreversible right now. >> getting moved out in this situation where it's chaotic may be difficult in itself. general, you heard the governor mention the u.s. doesn't want islamic unrest or control in that region between iraq and syria. is there a simple way for you to explain and our audience what you think the u.s. interest is in iraq right now. simply put, why bother at all? >> we don't want a safe haven for another 9/11 type al qaeda organization residing in northern and western iraq. if we give up that territory and allow it to become ungoverned space, isis will use it as a space to attack baghdad and targets in the region but it could become a threat to the united states of america. >> if they are allowed to stay
there, the fear is what might happen down the road. we'll talk more about that in a second. governor bill richardson, thank you for calling in. general, please stay with us. we have much more to talk about. ahead "@ this hour." >> iraq will need more help. don't rule out anything. >> he's ruling out ground troops but he's saying that air strikes could come soon and. a decision could come by this weekend. we'll talk about effects here at home if it does happen and if it doesn't. stay with us. frosted! what's your most favorite of all? hmm...the kind i have with you. me too. so, if you're what ysleeping in your is youcontact lenses, ask about the air optix® contacts so breathable they're approved for up to 30 nights of continuous wear. ask your doctor about safety information as serious eye problems may occur. visit airoptix.com for a free one-month trial.
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timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge. >> timely decisions by president obama but how timely and to what end? that was secretary of state john kerry speaking this morning in london about the possibility of u.s. military strikes in iraq. air strikes. this is terrorist militants with the group islamic state in iraq and syria push toward baghdad getting ever closer. back with me now is the retired army general. if there are these air strikes, then what? what's the world left with in iraq? >> well, what's left is for the iraqi security forces to go on a counteroffensive and push elements back out of mosul, out of tikrit and back into syria quite frankly. >> general, you served for a number of years in iraq. i attended a number of your briefings there. when you look at that country now and you see the fighting
force that you worked so hard to train melting away, when you see sunni militants marching toward baghdad gaining support as they move toofward the capital and y see the fighting force take over kirkuk and you see militia in the south rise up, how does that make you feel? does it feel worth it now to you? >> i just left baghdad on wednesday so i have some pretty recent views of what's going on on the ground. i think what we're seeing is up in the north there was a significant antagonism between forces on the ground and local civilians. i'm not surprised to see the shia military in the north melting away when they did not have the support of the local population and when they were hit by a terrorist threat. i think the situation is going to be quite different as they get closer and closer to baghdad. i believe what is really needed more than anything else is the
leadership because certainly you have the quantity of troops and you've got the military equipment that you need, but prime minister maliki and his military commanders have to make it clear they're going to go on a counteroffensive and if they roll over and give up, we're in a different situation. >> counteroffensive with whom and with what? are you talking about iraqi military or are you talking about militias from the south? >> that's a very, very alarming scenario that you just presented. up to this point, prime minister maliki and his government has retained a monopoly on the use of force. if he forfeits that, prime minister maliki is an observer
of a battlefield. >> how close are we to that, sir? >> in the next couple of days we're going to find out. if we are able to, number one, on diplomatic side persuade prime minister maliki to make necessary concessions and on the military side assist them and give them spine to go back on the counteroffensive, this may work out well. >> that sounds like a big if and it's perilous. is there a lesson here with what's happening in iraq for u.s. forces and u.s. future in afghanistan? >> the lesson has already been stated in terms of the security agreement. there will be 9,800 forces left in afghanistan upon the signature of the bsa in order to provide mentoring and advising and assisting of the forces. we chose not to do that because we are unable to secure a status of forces agreement in 2011. since the days that are advisers
and mentors and helpers inside the iraqi military left the battlefield, there's been a downward push, a downward thrust in capability of iraqi security forces so my advice to the government would be push very, very hard in getting the bsa approved in afghanistan so we don't see this kind of situation happen in afghanistan that we're seeing today in iraq. >> a situation as is described as being on the brink of catastrophe. much more to discuss. ahead "@ this hour," we'll talk about bowe bergdahl. he's back in the u.s. the hunt for the truth is on. could letters from his time in captivity of the taliban help investigators figure out what happened in afghanistan five years ago? ♪
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medical center. this is the area that u.s. army south dedicated to helping all former p.o.w.s and those held captive in the army to return. these are specialists here. it's not that this is being done because bowe bergdahl is somebody special. they stress this is being done because he's a member of the u.s. armed force, he's army and this is where they treat all returnees. no fanfare. they'll follow it by the book. they have a very specific plan. they'll check him out again medically. they'll check him out again mentally. there will be more debriefs to figure out why he fell into enemy hands, how he left his post and how did he stay alive? lastly, there's going to be a family reunion but to that point, there has been a change. i've been told the family would be here first and sergeant bergdahl would then arrive. his family is not here. they've asked for privacy and they say they're not making their travel plans public, john.
>> very interesting. general, how much do you think that his -- the investigation into how he ended up in taliban hands will be kept separate from his reintegration and medical care and psychological care he's given? >> let me first state up front i'm not an expert in this process. i would think the u.s. government would be very, very careful about ensuring those are firewalled. there's no hurry to get bowe bergdahl in front of the investigators so they ought to be taking as much time as necessary to return him to a good sense of mental health and physical health before they start that process. otherwise, quite frankly, if there is an investigation, that investigation could be tainted because of his status at which point he was asked the questions. >> martin, i want to ask you because overnight the daily beast published some letters that sergeant bergdahl allegedly wrote back home. what are we to make of these
letters do you think? >> they are definitely unusual. there are a number of things you would have to point out. those letters were written when he was in captivity. clearly written when he was under duress. other people who have been held captive have said they have been ordered to write letters and told every word word for word. we don't know because he has written them, whether those are his views or anything. you have to take that with large grain of salt. they are unusual. grammar is wrong. spelling is wrong. you have to figure something is not quite right in the way he was communicating. >> senator john mccain was a p.o.w. for a number of years. he said don't pay attention for the letters. anything you write in captivity can't be trusted. thank you for being with us. really appreciate it. ahead for us "@ this hour," they were even more brutal and fin att fanatical than al qaeda. and why they are advancing so re
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isis, islamic state in iraq and syria has become the world's most dangerous jihadist organization. its methods so extreme that al qaeda disavowed any relationship with this group. isis seized on the power vacuum left by the u.s. withdraw in iraq. it is on the march now. the group controls crucial swaths of territory stretching from the iran issian s iasia is jacobson headed the international forces in afghanistan and worked for david petraeus who led the u.s. military surge in iraq. mark, thank you so much for being with us. i should say senator john mccain earlier today said he thinks the president should bring general petraeus back to deal with the
iraq situation right now. not sure that's about to happen. aside from that, what do you think the u.s. options, realistic option are right now? >> i think senator mccain was trying to score a few political points there. there's a great deal of knowledge that the generals have with their experience in iraq and afghanistan for that matter. what i think the u.s. really needs to focus on are four things here. up front helping iraqis to stop isis from advancing further. as you look at the longer term, it's an understanding that not only do we have to show support for the iraqis but that this is a wider regional problem. you alluded to this earlier. you're talking about islamic state of iraq and greater syria. this is not just a problem on one side of the border. finally, this is going to be about political reconciliation. there have been a lot of people talking about whether or not maliki has what it takes to bring sunni and shia together. >> people are discussing right
now is a possibility of air strikes whether it be from u.s. aircraft or from drones. could you make a case that doing nothing and waiting and watching for a bit is a better play? >> i think it is always critical in situations that are complex like this. we're talking about five armies really engaging it out throughout iraq to sit and take a look at what's actually going on. you can make the situation worse. now, i'm not talking about a pause of months. i think if you look at people who suggested the administration should have reacting yesterday or last week, i think that was a bit premature. as we watched the situation evolve on the ground right now, i think there's a chance that the militias called out and now that iraqis have woken up that the stem of isis can be held for a bit. tactical air strikes by the united states, great in support but those are only really short-term tactical solutions to help support the iraqis. >> of course there are key
questions about whether these militia groups are better filling the vacuum than perhaps u.s. air strikes or u.s. assistance of some kind. stick around. i want to bring in wolf blitzer. we've been talking about the idea that the white house says they'll make a decision as early as this weekend about what to do in iraq. iraq, we have news about what the president might do or say even in the coming minutes. >> we expect the president to walk out of the white house and head out toward marine one, the official helicopter, that will take the president to andrews outside of washington d.c. we do expect now the president will make a statement on the situation in iraq within the next few minutes before he leaves the white house on this previously arranged trip. as you know, john, we've been anticipating some sort of statement from the president. yesterday he said all options are on the table. then his press secretary jay carney said except for one option, no boots on the ground in iraq. whether or not the president authorized new military action, whether air strikes, drone
strikes or whatever, that certainly is on the table right now. the situation is very dire in iraq. there's a lot going on. the president has been meeting extensively with his top national security team to come up with some plans. we don't know if the president is going to announce anything within the next few moments but it certainly will be something that we'll be listening to very, very carefully to get a direction if the u.s. is now 2 1/2 years after leaving iraq militarily is about to reenter that conflict one way or another. we're standing by, john, for that. >> wolf, i believe i still have mark jacobson with me. mark, are you still here? >> still with you. >> mark, the question i was getting at before and, wolf, chime in too. we're talking about what's happening on the ground right now in iraq. there are shia militias that appear to be taking up arms in the southern part of that country. a fighting force is moving and helping defend the area around
kirkuk. if these groups fill the vacuum, does that make the situation on the ground there even more complica complicated? >> that's exactly what's making it more complicated. the forces doing pretty well. also, they are there attaining kurdish political goals which are control of mosul. a political balance shift in the north. in the south, it should have been expected that they would call for shia militias to come up. reports now that al sadr is out controlling his forces as well. the problem is long-term for maliki. there is a view now or there may be a perception among iraqi people that not just political power but military power resides elsewhere other than in the governmental seat of power. so all these short-term actions to deal with the short-term problem of isis has longer term consequences. >> wolf, it does beg the question and this is what the white house has to consider right now, how much does the white house want to get involved
in this soup in iraq right now especially when the american people seem so unwilling to commit forces abroad especially in iraq? >> especially a president who didn't want the united states to get involved in the first place back in march of 2003 when the bush administration authorized the invasion of iraq and the toppling of saddam hussein's government in iraq. this is a president who didn't want to have to deal with iraq. he inherited a problem with a promise the u.s. would get out of iraq and u.s. is out of iraq but given the dire situation that's developed inside iraq, will the president of the united states reenter the situation in iraq militarily? barbara starr is our pentagon correspondent. barbara, what are you hearing at the pentagon? the president says all options with the exception of military boots on the ground all options are on the table. what are you hearing? >> what we understand is the president has not at least at this moment publicly made a decision about how to proceed in
iraq. the pentagon clearly offering the president all of the options as they do on the table. he has ruled out boots on the ground. what i can tell you is we have learned just a few moments ago that the pentagon now is planning, planning, to send aircraft carrier george h.w. bush from its current position in the north arabian sea on into the persian gulf. this is a plan. what it would do is give the president the option if, if he were to order air strikes, you then have those f-18 fighters jets on the deck of the carrier inside the persian gulf much closer to be able to strike targets in northern iraq. they can't really get that far from the north arabian sea. that's several hundred miles further away. so our understanding at this hour is the pentagon is now planning to move the carrier to give the president the options so he's got everything in front of him when he makes a decision, if he makes a decision for air
strikes, they can move very quickly. everyone i'm talking to seems to be ruling out the notion of drones in any significant way. they really are not capable of going after large formations of military forces. the big problem for the pentagon, wolf, is who do you target? isis fighters are guys riding around in pickup trucks with weapons up and down the roads in and out of cities. there are civilian populations at risk. the u.s. military has virtually no precise specific intelligence on the ground. before they launch weapons, they have to know exactly what their target is, who the people are, who they are bombing, and make sure they are taking every precaution against civilian casualties and right now that is one big question and they are not at all sure they can do that. >> hold on for a moment. i want to make sure our viewers not only in the united states but around the world are up to speed on what's going on here in
washington right now. wolf blitzer reporting from washington. we're standing by. president obama is about to make an important statement at the white house. the president getting ready to leave washington but he's been meeting for hours around the clock over the past few days with his top national security team. he's coming up with some options presumably on what to do about the dire situation unfolding in iraq right now. this isis group, islamic state in iraq and syria. a terrorist organization moved from syria into iraq and taken over major parts of northern iraq and moved into mosul, second largest city of iraq, a city of about 2 million people and moving closer and closer. you can see the red spots there on that map toward the iraqi capital of baghdad. the president has to make a major decision on whether to get involved militarily in iraq once again 2 1/2 or 3 years since the u.s. pulled out all of its troops from iraq. barbara, you say the aircraft
carrier george h.w. bush is in the arabian sea but is told to move toward southern iraq. how long will it take before that aircraft carrier will be in place presumably to launch air strikes if the president gives that order? >> as you can imagine, wolf, with sort of security tensions so high about all of this and the administration not talking publicly yet about any specific options, we're not being told exactly where the bush has been in the north arabian sea. depending on where it is and where it will go in the gulf to position itself if, again, strikes were ordered, certainly perhaps more than a day, perhaps two days. but they may not have much better option if they want to go with a military option. there are also navy ships in the mediterranean with tomahawk
missiles. cruise missiles are precision guided. there are overflight issues if you're going to launch out of the mediterranean, you're going to have to fly over syria, over other nations in that region. it's going to destabilize things. that's not an option they are really looking forward to. there are u.s. f-16 fighters in jordan, next door. jordan does not want attacks launched off its territory by the united states. jordan already very nervous about the situation in the region. there are also b-1 bombers in qatar at a military base. they could be used. if you're going to really have a military situation, if that decision is made and you want to generate air strikes around the clock and make a difference not just a pinprick, you're going to have to use an aircraft carrier and get that air wing of f-18s up there and have them operating around the clock. but that is a big if.
there is no indication at this point as we stand here that the president has made that decision. >> no indication yet. we'll see what's going on. stand by over there at the pentagon, barbara. jim accosta is over at the white house. they are clearly getting ready for a statement from the president. we see microphone stand has now been set up right in front of marine one, which will take the president over to joint base andrews outside of washington for his previously scheduled trip. what are you hearing at the white house? the statement from the president coming up momentarily. >> reporter: wolf, i don't think we'll hear the president announce a decision at this point as to some sort of military action he's going to take in iraq. i don't think he's there and i don't think his national security team is there at this point. earlier this morning we heard from senior administration officials that that decision could come as soon as this weekend but that he's not made a decision yet. you heard earlier this morning secretary of state john kerry over in london saying that we should expect a timely decision from the president given the grave situation on the ground in
iraq and obviously they are watching these developments with great concern. i was talking to one senior administration official earlier this morning who said that they are moving on this crisis with an urgent sense of action at this point. that they feel like something has to be done but at this point it's selecting the right course of action and as barbara starr has been talking about, there are misgivings over at the pentagon as to exactly what to do when it comes to delivering air strikes. would they be effective? could they turn the tide against these isis militants? i don't know how far out the white house gamed these scenarios and the decision will take longer than in the next several minutes. what we'll hear from the president is restating what he said yesterday considering all options barring boots on the ground senior administration officials have said over and over again that is not going to be considered. that's not going to take place.
another thing to keep in mind, wolf, is there will be members of congress particularly from the president's own party who will demand this president consult with congress and seek authorization from congress before delivering any air strikes against iraq. obviously all of this is irony layered on top of irony. the president was very much an anti-war critic running for president. a big part of the reason why he became president. he ended the war nearly three years ago. keep in mind, wolf, i think this is important. the authorization to use military force in iraq that was passed by the congress in october of 2002, that has not yet expired. and some have suggested that perhaps the president could use that as a legal basis to conduct air strikes over the next several days. he would not need to go back to congress and seek authorization. so a lot of moving parts. a lot of moving pieces for this president. no question about it. a huge political moment for this president. a president who said he's going to be more about ending wars and not starting wars.
this comes at a critical time for his presidency. if he does not act against these militants and baghdad falls, i think that's a scenario that this white house just doesn't want to face at this point and that may force his hand. >> potentially could be forcing his hand. just a reminder, where is the president going after he makes this statement? >> he and the first lady are set to depart any moment now for a trip to meet with native american groups in north dakota. that was going to be a stop for several hours there in north dakota before he heads off to california. he's giving the commencement speech at the university of california irvine and then spending the rest of the weekend in palm springs. the one thing we don't know at this point is if these decisions are coming this weekend, could the president's scheduled be tail eored where he returns bac to washington. the latest guidance we have from the white house is the president will remain overnight in california. that's as far as we've gotten at this point.
the thought all along was president and first lady would spend the weekend in palm springs. we don't know if that's still going to happen. >> obviously a fluid situation. crisis has developed. jim accosta, stand by. fareed zakaria is with us as well. fareed, you are looking at the microphone. you see one of the president's aides getting ready to hear from the president. he'll make a statement. we'll listen to it very carefully. one development that has occurred, fareed, that further complicates this already very complicated situation is we've now learned that iranian revolutionary guard troops units have moved into neighboring iraq to help the government of al maliki deal with the threat from al qaeda inspired terrorists, this isis group. how does that play into his decision making? >> it highlights it the central problem we face with regard to iraq. the government of iraq that we are supporting, that we would be
potentially aiding and helping and maybe even acting as the air force for is a pro-iranian government. it's a shia government that persecuted the sunnis of iraq. the reason this insurgency has grown -- this is a few thousand fighters who are up against a $600,0 600,000 iraqi army. they are winning because they have local support among disaffected sunnis. so in the sunni context, you have a government in iraq supported by the shia government in iran and elite guards from iran are coming to support the iraqi government and u.s. would be placed in the extremely awkward position of being the air force for iran's revolutionary guard and the iraqi government. that's the dilemma. this government has not been inclusive or democratic and
pro-iranian and pro-syrian. before the president decides he wants to act to support it, he's going to have to ask if there is something he can ask of this government in terms of reform. >> i know u.s. officials are deeply concerned, fareed. we'll discuss this later, about the possibility that some of these groups could go ahead and attack some shiite shrines in iraq. that would simply explode this situation totally as you and a lot of our viewers would appreciate. let's take a quick break. we'll continue our special coverage here on cnn. we're waiting for the president of the united states to tell us is the united states about to get militarily involved in iraq once again? we'll be right back.
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united states and around the world. as we a wait the president, he's about to make the statement before he a boards marine one to take him to joint base andrews for a previously scheduled trip. he's been meeting with his top national security advisers. i know from my sources that u.s. officials are deeply worried that some shiite shrines, mosques, other shines inside iraq right now could be in dangered by this isis terrorist group, one reason why elite forces are moving into help the government of nuri al maliki. explain what would happen if one of these major shrines were attacked. >> this is a movie we have seen before. i think it was in 2006, sunni militants affiliated with al qaeda blew up what is regarded as the third holiest shia shine. it has a beautiful golden dome. and when they blew it up, it
produced in incredible reaction from the shia population who are the majority in iraq. so now you had a disaffected sunni minority, but also engaged shia majority. and that's what began the iraqi civil war that continued up general david petraeus was able to stabilize the situation militarily, but most importantly, also politically by reaching out to those sunni describes and groups bringing them in, trying to create a government of national unity. and what has happened since then is that prime minister maliki has once again turned on the sunnis. he stopped funding them, persecuted them. so we're back very close to those conditions that sparked the civil war. and if that p harhappen, violen will probably go up five-fold and it will become as deadly a place as syria.
so you will have this vast stretch of land, iraq and syria, which becomes essentially a battle link. >> the civil war in syria could clearly be emyou uhe lated in iraq and may already be on the verge. let's go to iraq. arwa, set the scene for us. will the president tell us the u.s. is about to get militarily back involved in iraq or not? set the screen to us. what are you hearing. how close are these in-sur insurgent islamist groups? >> reporter: they have made their way into the north of baghdad. we're hearing that there are battles taking place. a town about an hour north of the capital. that is part of the reason why the iranians presumably decided to send those brigades of special revolutionary guard
forces into duyala province to push the isis fighters back away from the capital. this also not just to protect the shia shines as you werine, iraqi security forces are not exactly standing up and fighting. another thing to look at is the trajectory that this violence has taken, the way isis chosen to go go through the territory toward the capital baghdad. these are predominantly sunni areas where they do have a certain degree of support from the sunni population and where also even though ic isis is the organization in the spotlight, it is gets support. the battle between sunni and shia is being joined by some well-known insurgent groups prominent during the u.s. occupation of iraq, not necessarily fighting alongside
isis because they believe and feel they have to fight for their very existence in the face of what they view as being a shia fighting force. and that is the iraqi army being led by shia prime minister nuri al maliki. we're also hearing about various calls from shia militia leaders trying to reactivate their militias so deadly during the previous civil war, the most famous cleric here, putting out a call to people to volunteer and join the iraqi security forces. so when it comes to any sort of option with regards to what the u.s. may have, even if it they do decide to get involved with air strike, it will be very difficult to figure out who to st strike and where. isis has embedded itself within the civilian population.
there are no clear confined front line. add to that the dynamic of the iranians being involved on the ground and those various shia militias that also waged a brutal battle against u.s. forces bein reactivated, as well. >> cleary stakes for everyone are enormous. stand by. michael holmes is joining us. as we a wait the president of the united states, the microphones have already been set up in front of marine one, he's leaving town with the first lady on a previously scheduled weekend trip, but the president is meeting with his will national security advisers, trying to come up with some sort of formula. yesterday he said all positions, military options, were on the table. his spokesman later said no u.s. boots on the ground. here is the question. there are hundreds of thousands of iraqi trained military personnel, postally tra lall lm
by u.s. forces, funded by the under, you spent a lot of time in iraq, why aren't they taking their uniforms off handing over the weapons to the insurgents moving in? a rag tag army, if you will. why are they giving up so quickly? >> i think one of the issues is isis isn't as rag tag as people think. they are are's fairly well organized. as we've seen in the last few days, they have been able to take enormous swathes of land without too much trouble. as far as the army, on the face of it, it seems absolutely extraordinary. you had 30,000 troops up in that part of the country trained by the u.s., incredibly well armed and equipped. and yet they donned weapons and uniforms, dropped them on the ground and ran. why? the initial reason has to be that they don't feel loyalty to the government. some of them sympathize with the uprising if you like against the
government. every time we look at this story, it all comes back to nuri al maliki. this is a man who did not win the election in 2010. he didn't get as many votes, but he was able to cobble together a coalition and continue to govern. i was there on the q 80 border in 201 is when the last u.s. troops crossed out of iraq and i can tell you within 24 hours, sunni politicians were beingand. that was just the beginning. as he continued to mar begginal the sunni side of things, those battling al qaeda, stopped paying them, they have been annoyed about that. it cut them out of the political process. wouldn't share oil wealth after promising he would share power. he did the absolute opposite. we're seeing the fallout now.
>> hold on, michael. the president is about to walk up to the microphone. this is the south lawn of the white house. he's been meeting with his national security advisers. let's listen to the president. >> good morning, every. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.by. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.iy. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.dtyy. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.y. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.y. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.y. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.y. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.y. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.by. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.oy. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.dyy. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq.. want to take some time to give you a quick update about the situation in iraq. yesterday i convened a meeting with the security council and this morning i received an update. we've seen significant gains made by a terrorist organization that operates this both iraq and syria. in the face of a terrorist offensive, iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of iraq's territory. and this poses a danger to iraq and its people, and given the nature of these terrorist, it could pose a threat eventually to american interests, as well. this threat is not brand new.
over the last year, we've been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence. now iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of iraqi security forces. we will not be sending u.s. troops back into combat in iraq, but i have asked my snags natio security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support iraq security forces and i'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead. this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge. over the past decade, american troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to get iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future. unfortunately, iraqis leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian